Andrea D’Aquino on Illustrating Alice in Wonderland

Andrea D’Aquino’s illustrative ramblings run the gamut from watercolor to collage to everything in between, and it’s perhaps because of this cataclysmic range that she was chosen to illustrate this fantastic tale of two worlds for Rockport Publishers for its Classics Reimagined series. We go down the Rabbit Hole with D’Aquino, as she talks about the challenges of reinterpreting this classic through her eyes.

Is this a story you’ve always wanted to illustrate?

 It’s my favorite book, but by no means had I ever considered illustrating it, nor would it ever have entered my mind. The idea to tackle such a classic text, would’ve struck me as almost preposterous after artists from Dali’ to Disney, to Tim Burton—to the definitive Tenniel illustrations—have already been imprinted onto such a wide swath of our collective minds. How would I follow up on such a thing?

But, when I was asked to illustrate it, I didn’t hesitate for a second. I know a great opportunity when it hits me over the head! I did really worry for a week or two, wondering how I would ever approach it, and make it fresh. It’s full of classic scenes that so many of us have preconceived images. Read the rest of the interview here.

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Five Exercises That Will Turn Anyone Into an Artist

Whitney Sherman is an award-winning illustrator and director of the MFA in Illustration Practice at Maryland Institute College of Art. She is also author of Playing with Sketches, 50 creative exercises for designers and artists (Rockport Publishers).

We asked Sherman for advice on how to get over the drawing hurdle many of us are afraid to jump. She also offers up five drawing exercises from her book to help anyone get started.

Why do you think it’s so hard for people to get started drawing?

For non-artists, I think that the culture of drawing is not extended or continued with or for them beyond early childhood. Grade schools and high schools, for the most part, value math and science over the arts, which gets cut out when budgetary pressures arise. What is then neglected is the haptic qualities of “making,” which can contribute to retention of learning as well as foster communication. If a non-artist is only shown an example of classical or academic drawing, they will be thwarted by not having those skills. If encouraged to make native marks [draw in their own way] and be respected for that, most people would grow up with less doubt on their ability to draw and would enjoy the process, which is a very important part of drawing!

For creative people who are working in artforms that do not regularly encourage drawing, some of the reasons are the same – recognizing and celebrating native marks, but I think it goes a bit farther to include practice. Creatively leaning people continue drawing beyond childhood for longer than most, yet their particular area of creative focus as an adult may have not required the use of drawing, and so it is left behind, unpracticed. In both cases, having permission [from a teacher, from ones self] to draw as one does, to appreciate that and practice it will foster comfort and confidence with drawing. Read the rest of the interview here.

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ScenoGraphics, book review

Scenographics (promopress) offers readers an unprecedented look at the intersection of set design, graphic design, and illustration through the work of 40 prominent artists from around the globe. Scenographics is unlike any other design book we’ve seen recently in that every spread takes you on a journey to a fantastical world created by artists committed to concocting their wild ideas. Just when you think you’ve seen every crafting stunt under the sun, you turn the page and there are more (great) projects. The artists push the boundaries of the handmade unlike anything you’ve ever seen, and you’ll be left puzzling over how many hours were spent cutting, gluing, assembling, arranging, lighting, and photographing each scene. Read the rest here.

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Design: Jess Bonham, Camille Walala

Good Book Design: “Trust Your Gut”

For the past few years those in the publishing arena have been bemoaning the demise of print, claiming e-devices will take over. Thankfully that hasn’t happened, and it likely never will. According to an article in the March 2 issue of Forbes, “ebooks make up only an estimated 23% of the $35 billion dollar industry–and Pew Research reports that just 4% of Americans are e-book only.” People still like the tactile qualities of books and they put their money on it.

Penguin Books creative director, Paul Buckley, says, “Originally there was reason to worry, but that worry is a thing of the past. It has become clear that most titles will sell in both mediums, and neither will destroy the other. Print lives another day!”

There are many factors leading to a successful book, marketing, shelf presence, good cover design, and of course, content. But what makes a successful cover design and what is the role of design and paper selection in the book buying decision? I asked Buckley to weigh in. Read the rest of the article here.

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Cover design: Buckley; Illustration: Shout (Alessandro Gottardo); printed on Neenah Paper.